Thursday, June 24, 2010

Is This Working?

I mentioned my aversion to doctors and the medical industry here. Perhaps a little background will explain why I avoid them so assiduously.

A former co-worker and her husband illustrate perfectly my problems with allopathic medicine. The co-worker periodically had to take a day or two off work when she had her arthritic knees injected with cortisone. The injections were very painful, but she swore her knees were so much better after the pain wore off.

I explained to her how cortisone injected into a joint actually works, how it's a total short-term-gain-long-term-loss situation, and how horses who are injected this way end up getting put down. Oh no, she insisted, these were absolutely safe. Guess what? Next thing you know she's having both knees replaced.

Then there's her husband. When they got married, he was active and to all appearances healthy. He hunted and fished, built and fixed things, and never had a cardiac symptom in his life. His new wife insisted he go in for a full physical as she did twice a year, and he agreed.

During that physical, the doctors found what they described as a serious heart murmur. Despite the total absence of any cardiac distress whatsoever for his entire life, they insisted the husband have his mitral valve replaced at once.

The husband had the surgery, and then while still in the hospital had a massive stroke -- a post-operative complication that's more common than you might think. Recovery from the stroke was lengthy and difficult, and the husband had sufficient permanent impairment that his formerly favorite activities were nearly impossible.

The he started passing out. The doctors had him wear a Holter monitor for a week and concluded he now needed a pacemaker. As the co-worker was describing her husband's painful recovery from that surgery, she gushed, "And I'm so glad we caught all these problems so early."

Say what? Odds are if her husband had listened to his own body instead of his wife's doctors, he would still be an active outdoorsman today instead of a near-invalid.

My best friend for many years died because while she knew exactly what was wrong with her, the doctors wouldn't listen. How dare she think she knows more than they do? She had been a medical professional herself before quitting in disgust, her husband was a doctor, and still they wouldn't listen. The last time I visited her in the hospital, she knew she was dying. The doctors kept saying as soon as she could start walking again she could be released, but she knew better. It was painfully obvious to me as well what the outcome would be, but the doctors refused to believe her. As she said during that last visit, "Well, they finally killed me."

And the sickest I ever was in my entire life was from a respiratory infection I picked up while visiting her in the hospital.

My aunt is the only person on either side of my family who ever developed Alzheimer's disease. She is also the only person on either side of my family who was (and still is, gotta love those doctors) on one of a certain class of extremely popular and lucrative prescription drugs. A doctor friend confided that he and other medical professionals are wondering about a possible causative relationship between these drugs and the increasing incidence of Alzheimer's, but to speak of it is to commit career suicide.

I'm sure if I went in for a full physical, some doctor would see a number or a squiggly line on a piece of paper and tell me I need to be on prescription drugs. And if I took those drugs, I would no doubt end up on the downward spiral of ever-increasing dependency on the pharmaceutical industry. My aunt is on a whole laundry list of drugs, half of which are to counteract the side effects of the other half. None of them are increasing her quality of life one bit. She's just this side of a chronic vegetative state, and who's to say if this condition was truly inevitable?

If the current medical industry was really making people healthier, wouldn't they need it less instead of more? Kinda like if gun control was really effective, wouldn't the cities with the strictest laws have less crime instead of more?

Oddly enough, I find it much easier to find a competent and trustworthy veterinarian than a practitioner of human medicine. Maybe that's because, as one vet told me, "We don't take that God 101 class in vet school."


Jeanne S said...

I'm right there with you! The only reason I ever see a doctor is to get my prescriptions for migraine meds refilled; while I dislike taking those meds, I dislike being completely incapacitated with pain for hours or days on end even worse. I had 2 drug-free childbirths, and have spent only a single night in a hospital in 40 years (and that only because the midwife reneged on her promise to let me go home 8 hours after the first birth because she found out that I lived 40 miles from the nearest hospital), while my sister who is more of a fan of modern medicine had 3 C-sections. I could go on and on, but suffice it to say that I view your attitude as one of the most sane I've heard of, regarding the "science" of medicine.

Hecate said...

Oh yeah, pregnancy is not a disease. Childbirth is not a disease. Menopause is not a disease.

Normal human female physiology is not a disease. The medical industry needs to stop treating it as such.

And don't get me started on the stupidity of ZOMG TEH GERMZ DISINFECT EVERYTHING. The local septic-pumping guy loves it, though. Fools kill off the beneficial bacteria and then have to call him to fix it.

Kevin said...

I'll argue that a physical likely saved my life. Doctor noticed that I had edema on my legs (minor-nothing obvious) and few tests later I had some interesting CT and ultrasound images of what early stage heart failure via pulmonary arterial hypertension looks like. The CPAP for sleep apnea sucks, but it beats the alternative. And the "interesting" changes in my heart have disappeared.

wrm said...

Heh. Sounds like PTerry's take on vets vs doctors... patient dies, it was God's will... racehorse dies, someone's going to be VERY upset.

Me? I believe in checkups with a competent doctor who treats me like I have a brain and tells me what it's all about. And yes, I have a doctor like this, she's great.

Ruth said...

I'm of mixed feelings when it comes to doctors & medications.

Having a doctor that talks to you but also listens to you helps immensly. But they do seem to want to treat the symptons & not the source. My husband was informed he had to start taking blood pressure medication, he went out and put alot of effort into loosing 50 pounds instead. Amazing how the high blood pressure went away when the weight did. True not everybody CAN, but you'd think the benefits would get the doctors to push the drugs less!

Personally I DO take prescription medication for arthritis in both hands, with out the medication (and before diagnosis) I almost can't function, especially when the weather's bad. With the medication I can actually do things (like type!). But I have to pay extra attention to drug interactions, and can't take anything else for pain relief except tylenol (ugh). I'm not pain free, I can't do EVERYTHING I used to be able too, but I can do most.